Sunday, July 18, 2010

At some point, you just have to leave the dock...

Thanks to Mary and Geoff Ewenson, we slept in total air conditioned comfort and since Mary was heading out for an early stand up paddle, we did not need to tiptoe around but could pretend that it was normal to have all 8 of us up and moving at 5am. Because of the need to shore up the deck beam the day before, we had to divide and conquer: me and Mark off to the grocery store for food/water for the voyage and the rest of the crew to the boat for a variety of manual labor and normal prep for sailing and be ready to drop the dock lines by 8am and make it out of the basin with enough water (the boat draws 10.5 feet).

It was all a whirlwind. Luckily the grocery store was empty (as expected at 6am on a Monday morning) and we could maneuver our multiple carts around without taking anyone down. Got everything into reusable bags and stopped at West Marine for more very last minute items before screeching to a halt in front of the boat. With 8 people, a pickup bed full of bags is quick and next thing I knew I was on the radio asking for permission to leave the Naval Academy's YP basin (permission was granted). And yes, I have to admit to having a bit of a flutter to really be off.

Our first stop was not very far away... the fuel dock at Annapolis City Marina. James
was at the helm for our first docking. His comment was, "She has a lot of way on." which means the boat is big and heavy and once set in motion will glide, with speed for a long time. It was nothing that a spring line could not handle and James' first docking was a smooth success. The woman at the gas dock asked that we go to one end of the dock or the other which was pretty funny since we were longer than the entire dock. Again, luckily it was Monday morning so despite the fact that we took up the entire dock for our fill up with diesel and water (and coffee and unbeknownst to me and James at the time, champagne thanks to Mary) we did not seem to hold anyone else up. While at the dock, we tested the water system. The boat has 2 sinks with foot pumps as well as pressured hot/cold fresh water and pressured salt water. We tested all but the hot water (it was already 90F at 8:30am) and flushed the system and were pleased that it worked (though what came out of hoses that had not been used since 2008 was pretty gross).

System-wise, the boat had been OK during the days we had preparing her. Always a few foibles but eventually we had the generator working and powering the AC system, shore power worked, the engine (after a scare) did what it was supposed to do. A battery condition monitoring device that had worked when we first looked at the boat was not working (anyone know anything about a Heart Interface Link 20?) but we have a system voltage scanner which gave similar information. The chart plotter seemed to work as did the radar and GPS. The other instruments were a little hot and cold including depth and wind info (depth seemed not to like to work with the engine on but OK without). We had coaxed various pumps into submission and were happy that the electric and manual bilge pumps all worked. The head put what it was supposed to into the holding tank and sinks drained into a gray water tank. The world's oldest microwave may or may not work but the propane stove and oven both did. Both fridges worked, the freezer would not make ice but kept ice cubes square.

The log records we departed the fuel dock at 1111 on Monday July 12 bound for Albany, NY via the Chesapeake
and Delaware Canal, Jersey coast and Hudson River. First order of business was to raise the huge main, do the same for the number 2 jib and enjoy what this boat was built for, some downwind sailing. It was blowing from the south and we were heading north - perfect.

What a great sailing boat. She rolls along at a speed at odds with the wind strength and her own size (faster than expected). We got in a few hours up the Bay before some squalls and the entrance to the CND Canal forced us to drop the main and start to motor. There was little traffic in the Canal which was very pretty.
Saw a bald eagle getting harassed
by a little bird who seemed to want to catch rides on the big eagle's back and were passed by a convoy of the USNA's YP boats on a training cruise to RI. Enjoyed a delicious dinner prepared ahead of the voyage by Mark and fell into our watch system: 4 hours on, 4 hours off with 4 people per watch: first from 12-4pm was James (captain), Ernie and Bette Reuter and my dad (Allan) and second (4-8pm) was me (navigator), Richard Feeny, Mary Lotuff-Feeny and Mark Naud. Our watch ended just as we popped out of the canal into the Delaware River.

Next post will take us from the busy and bumpy Delaware River north to New York City.

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